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The Islamic law, even if always tagged archaic or barbaric by bias critics and orientalists, its impact on the modern codes of law is so obvious and can never be over emphasized. Most of the recently globally accepted and advocated laws and legal concepts, such as supremacy of the law, equality in front of the law, independence and impartiality of the Judiciary, presumption of innocence etc, were parts and parcel of the so called old fashioned Islamic law. In fact they were core keys in the Islamic law. This is a fact that Muslims have to be proud of.




Our "barbaric" "out dated law" of 1400 years ago, as they may refer to it, which is our pride, can boast of being standard and fit to be the means of judgment in our recent days while retaining its codes and processes just as they were in those days of 1400 years ago. Allahu Akbar (God is the Greatest)!




Muslims should be happy and proud that from inception, their judicial system, as Divinely revealed to the Prophet Muhammad ‎(peace be upon him), was placed on pillars that are later, in modern days, being emulated by our so acclaimed best systems of today. Below is a brief glance over the major characteristics of administration of justice in Islam.




1. Equality before law:


The Qur’an and the Sunnah are the primary sources of the Islamic law. These two great sources lay much emphasis on equality. They law is for all, both rich and poor, leader and follower, civilian and soldier etc. It is strictly on the perfect principle of Islam that there is no honour is granted for any over another no matter the ground except on the basis of piety, which in turn is known to Allah the Creator Alone. No law for the ruler and a different one for the subject; a kind for the powerful and another for the weak and so on. There are no immunity clauses for those in authorities. No special privileges on the application of law. Even the Prophet r did not consider himself or his family above the law. The law was laid in such a way that even the head of the state can be challenged in the court of law in both official and private capacity.




The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Verily those who were before you were destroyed because when the noble amongst them committed theft, they passed no sentence on him. And when the weak committed theft, they applied the law on them. By Allah, if Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad ‎ (peace be upon him), commits theft, I will cut off her hand.” [Bukhari and Muslim]




During the course of his last sermon, the Prophet r publicly asked the people that if he owed anything to anyone, or had done any harm to anyone’s life or property, he was available to answer for it.




In a same way, during the life time of Umar, it happened that materials were shared for everyone and was based on a portion per individual. But while Umar was giving his Friday sermon, a man noticed he joined two portions together to make up the clothe he was wearing. The man got up and challenged Umar. Though the congregation got angry, yet Umar calmed them and asked the man to make his point. After the man made his point, Umar called on his son, Abdullah bin Umar, to get up and explain. Abdullah then explained that when his father's portion was not enough to make a cloth for him (because Umar, as said about him, was a very tall and huge person), he gave to him his own portion. That was what he attached to his that made it look the way it looked. The man said he was satisfied and Umar continued his sermon.




These are just two out of so many examples of the equality of all before the Islamic Law.




2. Supremacy of law:


In Islamic legal system, no one is above the law. Everyone must be governed by the law. There is no acts, decisions or procedures any authority makes, howsoever its might, that can be valid and binding as to the people they affect, except to the extent they are in consonance with the law. Even the Prophet had to sit with his companions in consultations. Allah said: {And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you (Muhammad) been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from around you; so pass over their faults; and consult them in the affairs. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah, certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).} [Al-'Imran: 159]




It is also the reason why norms and rational costumes are considered in Islamic law. Consensus of the people, or those of concern in specific matters, matters in Islamic law. No law is past, for example, in the medical field without highly qualified doctors being part of the committee, or an act on certain kinds of nutrition be enacted without the role of nutritionists and so on and so forth.




In any case, there must not be disobedience to fundamentals of the law, which are pillars laid down by Allah Himself and the Prophet r.




3. Judicial independence:


In Islamic legal system, judiciary is independent of executive control. Judges perform their duties without any interference from anyone. None is to influence the course of justice with his authority or wealth.




Below is a portion of a letter written by Caliph Ali to one of his governors. It excellently speaks for itself about the Islamic ideology of Judicial independence:


{Select for your Chief Judge one from the people who by far is the best among them; one who is not obsessed with domestic worries; one who cannot be intimidated; one who does not err too often; one who does not turn back from the right path once he finds it; one who is not self centred or avaricious; one who will not decide before knowing full facts; one who will weigh with care every attendant doubt and pronounce a clear verdict after taking everything into full consideration; one who will not grow restive over the arguments of advocates; one who will examine with patience every new disclosure of facts; one who will be strictly impartial in his decision; one whom flattery cannot mislead; one who does not exult over his position…. But it is not easy to find such men... Once you have selected the right man for the office, pay him handsomely enough to let him live in comfort and in keeping with his position, enough to keep him above temptations. Give him a position in your court so high that none can even dream of coveting it, and so high that neither backbiting nor intrigue can touch him.}




These are some of the features our Islamic law has been embedded with right from its beginning. The history of other parts of the world, especially the so called best nations in their Judicial systems today, is well known. Their maturity to the Judicial systems they operate today, which is like the Islamic System, even if still practiced with great biasness and partiality, just came up few years back. But that of the Muslims has been as it is right from its beginning 1400 years ago hitherto. The prophet (peace be upon him) said: {Judges are three types, two are in Hell Fire and one is in Paradise. A man (judge) who knew the truth (i.e. qualified) and judged accordingly with it, is in Paradise; a man (another judge) who knew the truth (i.e. qualified) but did not judge accordingly with it, instead he oppressed in his judgment, is in hell; a man (another judge) who knew not the truth (i.e. not qualified) and he judged among people with ignorance, is in Hell.} {Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi]




To crown it all, the Islamic law is not just a human law being applied and carried out, but a sacred divine ordinance, that if well done, Allah rewards for it. Even if there occur some mistakes, out of human lapses, but not intentional misconducts made, the Judge is still going to be rewarded. On the other hand, if a Judge who knows he is not qualified takes the responsibility of judgment, or a qualified Judge intentionally commits misconducts in passing judgment, such are to be severely punished by Allah.


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